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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bertie Ahern and long-term planning

An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, shares a cup of tea with well-wishers during a recent visit to North Tipperary.
Bertie Ahern said today September 5th that he was "appalled" at the crisis in A&E that led to people sleeping on trolleys.

Speaking on the second day of Fianna Fáil's annual meeting in Westport, Co Mayo, Ahern said: "It gave me no satisfaction last year to see the fact that we were spending almost €13 billion in health, and I heard that people couldn't get a blanket or were sleeping on trolleys.

"That appalled me and rather than being appalled like everyone else I had to get out and do something about it."

He told RTÉ radio that health was the topic of discussion for the party and that they were "trying to get community medicine, put more resources in for the elderly people and trying to do more in the National Treatment Fund.

"If we can solve them all this winter, I don't know. But the sure thing is we have to solve them over the next few years, that's important."

With the general election campaign underway, we are already hearing a great deal about big plans for the future.

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen's claim that the plan to invest €3.8 billion in R&D in the period to 2013, will result in the creation of 500,000 jobs is let's say kindly, a little optimistic.

Only if we could have the equivalent of property booms in other sectors of the economy!

The free lunch has yet to be invented and almost 90% of Irish exports are made by foreign firms. As we ramp up R&D spending from a low base, the rest of the world will hardly be asleep at the switch.

One striking statistic is that less than €200 million in venture capital investment, will be made in Irish firms in 2006. In contrast, the Cosgrave family that is involved in property development in the Dublin area, have invested €650 million in UK property in the first seven months of 2006.

Last year, a total of $2.7 billion in venture capital investment, was made in Israeli companies.

Check out what is the current record on long-term reform!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Is corporate entertainment acceptable bribery?

Recipients of lavish corporate entertainment never admit that they can be compromised by freebies.

The acceptable form of bribery is big business and there are plenty takers from wealthy medical consultants to researchers who just might drop a hint on some interesting work to a hedge fund manager during a trip to a strip club or whatever.

At a local Irish level, conflict of interest issues seems to be an abstract issue to many people including politicians.

It’s extraordinary that a public tribunal investigating planning corruption, has been sitting since 1997 when the present government combination came to power. Lawyers have become multimillionaires in the interval and surprise, surprise, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has been done to change the system that fuelled the corruption!!

Last week a Fianna Fail councillor was at the centre of a political storm for accepting free Ryder Cup tickets from a property developer.

In a u-turn, Councillor Maire Ardagh finally decided to reject an offer of corporate hospitality worth thousands of euro from the country's biggest home builder.

The wife of Fianna Fail TD Sean Ardagh, who is also a chartered accountant, gave into the pressure after she said that she planned to attend the golfing event as a guest of Menolly Homes.

A spokesperson for Sean Ardagh said his wife had now "declined the tickets".

Menolly Homes, which paid former Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor IR£40,000 to get a better postal address for its homes, offered several South Dublin councillors the tempting gifts of Ryder Cup tickets and corporate hospitality.

Mrs Ardagh was the only councillor to admit accepting the offer, saying she was "delighted to go" and didn't see any conflict of interest.

However, fellow councillors were reported to have said, it could result in "suspicion" or be "misconstrued", and that accepting it was possibly contrary to ethics rules.

Global corruption rampant; Corporate entertainment the new bribery in Developed World